Friday, April 29, 2016

Library GrabBag: Lions and Tigers and Bears...oh my!


We're excited to host our annual spring book-themed lock-in this evening at my library.  For the last three years we have hosted classic evenings of fun starting with a Mad Hatter Tea Party, then heading into Narnia to battle the White Witch, and finally traveling to Oz for Lions & Tigers & Bears, Oh My!

I'm super excited to see all the fun things our phenomenal Teen Librarian, Jessica (a.k.a. Book Plots & Polka Dots) has planned for the evening.  A lot of the activities we pulled from Pinterest (tweaking here and there to make it work for our setting and our teens).  Similar to our other book-themed lockins, we've made each station match scenes from the book and movie.  

Itinerary:


Lions, Tigers, and Bears Lock In (5-8:30PM)
(5-5:15) Rules/Icebreaker (Courage Walk)
(5:15-5:45) Jeopardy 
  • Categories: Munchkins, Oz, Wicked Witch, Dorothy, Book vs. Movie
(5:45-6:30) Relay
  • Yellow Brick Road, Piece together the Scarecrow, Broom Race
(6:30-7) Snack time – Perler beads characters (watch movie) 
(7-7:45) Scavenger Hunt
  • Tornado (In a jar)
  • Glinda (Wands)
  • Tinman (Magnetic pin the heart)
  • Emerald City (Green glasses)
  • Balloon (Lightbulbs)
  • I Spy (Toto, Munchkins, Flying monkeys, heart, brain, courage) 
  • Wicked Witch (Find the witch)
(7:45-8:15) Capture the Flag – Monkeys vs. Munchkins (Wearing green glasses) 

(8:15-8:30) Goodies and Goodbyes

Courage Walk
Lion had to find courage so we’re going to too. Break into teams. Blindfold first person in line. Go through obstacle course. Must give directions to each other to make it through: go forward, step up, go to left or right, get down and crawl. Not allowed to pull team members through course, must direct by talking.

Scavenger Hunt

Whole Night
Find Witch – Certificate of Death Scroll (We're hiding the Wicked Witch of the East somewhere in the building - at her location will be a basket filled with death certificates.  Each teen must collect a certificate to prove they found her.)

Find Cutouts – Earn Brain, Heart, Courage. 

(Station 1)  Tornado in a Jar
Supplies:
  • empty jar with tight fitting top
  • water
  • dish soap
  • fine glitter
Directions:
1. Fill the jar ¾ of the way full with water. 
2. Add two drops of dish soap. 
3. Add a teaspoon of glitter. 
4. Screw on the top tightly and spin that tornado. 

(Station 2)  Glinda’s Wand
Supplies: 
  • wooden dowel rod
  • pretties
  • hot glue gun/sticks
  • stars cuts from cardstock
(Station 3) Pin the Heart on the Tinman 
(Station 4) Emerald Glasses
Supplies: 
  • glasses
  • green cellophane 

 (Station 5) Hot Air Balloon
Supplies: 
  • craft lightbulb
  • fabric puff paint
  • colorful paint
  • stick on jewels?
  • Styrofoam
  • toothpicks
  • hot glue gun/sticks
  • twine
Relays

Yellow Brick Road Relay
Split into your groups. Each group gets two bricks. These bricks are the only thing you can step on to travel from the start, around the orange cone, and back. Put the bricks down and step on them. Once back at the line, pass the brick to the next player in line. You must always have your feet on a brick as you cross the floor. Relay continues until all team members had gone. The team that finishes first wins. 
Scarecrow Relay 
The Scarecrow has fallen apart and you must find his pieces and put him together again. 


Witch's Broom Relay Race
Find 3 broom race signs throughout the library - one in Children's, one in Teen, and one on the 2nd floor; station a team member at each sign.  One person from your team take a broom ride to the next person.  Pass the broom on to the person at the sign.  Continue passing the broom on to your team member at each sign.  The team member at sign three must return to the Teen Reference Desk.  

As for snacks - we have a wonderful family bringing rice krispie treats (bricks from the Yellow Brick Road), Sour Patch Kids (munchkins), and Puppy Chow (Flying Monkey Chow).  We're purchasing Ding Dongs (the witch is dead!), rainbow punch, and apples (in case we need to throw something at any evil trees).

Each participant will also receive a goodie bag that will include a time turner, twisty straw, candy, and a rainbow sucker.  The bag will also be the perfect place to store their hot air balloon, wand, and tornado in a jar when they are complete.

Should be a fun evening!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Corner of White

A Corner of White (The Colors of Madeline, #1)Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Info: Arthur A. Levine Books, copyright 2013, 375 pages

This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world).

Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot's dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth.

As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds -- through an accidental gap that hasn't appeared in centuries. But even greater mysteries are unfolding on both sides of the gap: dangerous weather phenomena called "color storms;" a strange fascination with Isaac Newton; the myth of the "Butterfly Child," whose appearance could end the droughts of Cello; and some unexpected kisses...

~Goodreads Description

Well.  Hmmm.  Let's see.  You've got Madeleine who is living in Cambridge with her mother.  Mom seems to be a little off.  Forgetful.  Scatterbrained.  And yet, she somehow got it into her head that it would be a good idea to homeschool her daughter.  Luckily Madeleine is a self-starter and voracious reader, soaking up facts and stories especially on Isaac Newton.

Then you've got Elliot.  Elliot is grieving over the disappearance of his father.  He lives in a farming community, goes to school, and helps with odd jobs at home and in his aunt's Inn.  But Elliot lives in the Kingdom of Cello, a kingdom where butterfly children bring the hope of bountiful harvests and colors terrorizes the citizens.  Elliot and Madeleine meet through a crack that allows them to communicate as pen pals (just like Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in the Lake House!)  Two kids, a bit lost, who find a friendship that will change their lives.

This one was different.  The writing style and storytelling reminded me a lot of Jasper Fforde.  And I love Jasper Fforde.  It has a very British sensibility even though Moriarty is Australian.  While it's yet another book that jumps between perspectives, it helps that there are two different worlds being visited, not just two voices telling the same story.  We see Elliot and his struggles in Cello.  And then we see Madeleine and hers in Cambridge.  And their letters tie them both together.

There story seemed forever to really get going, but I didn't really understand what I was getting into.  I suppose I thought that there would be a bit more of a connection between the worlds.  A crossover.  Or even a romance.  But there wasn't any of that.  Okay - I suppose I really just wanted Keanu Reeves to be pining from the strange kingdom with colors that attack people (a stumbling block for my imagination).

Maybe I'll continue on with the series.  I haven't decided yet.  The audiobook was fantastic though.  Fiona Hardingham is quickly becoming one of my new favorite narrators.  If you like a bit of whimsy, this might be just the series for you.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Top Ten Bookworm Delights

Top Ten Bookworm Delights
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

1) Meeting your favorite author
I've been very fortunate to attend a few events that  put me in the path of some of my favorite authors.  While I very rarely have anything brilliant to say to them, it's nice to have the opportunity to let them know how much I appreciate what they do.  And then, of course, there are the picture of them with my favorite traveling buddy :)

2) Getting an Advanced Reader's Copy (of a book you've been eyeing)
Every once in a great while, a book I'm super excited about will pop up on Net Galley.  And every once in a great while, I'll get approved to read the advanced copy before it hits the shelf.  And boy is it fun to walk around my library and gloat :)

3) Falling in love with a new book (especially when you're in the depths of a deep reading rut)
I seem to fall into a lot of deep, awful reading ruts that I fear I will never climb out of.  But then a book will come along that was just the right book at just the right moment, and I realize why I love reading so much.  This experience is followed closely by the joy of sharing that new love with others whether they want me to or not :)

4) Zoning out in public places while reading because the book is so intriguing
While this can bring some interesting looks, and occasionally interesting conversations, I love that moment when you've forgotten that there is anyone around you and all you can focus on is the book in front of you :)

5) Post-it noting your favorite parts/quotes in a book (and then realizing you kind of post-it noted the entire thing)
Does anyone else do this?  I don't write in my books or fold pages, but I do post it note.  A lot.  I love marking sections that I'll want to quickly return to on a whim :)

6) Reading a book with a reading buddy
And not necessarily as a part of a book club.  My reading buddy over at Book Plots & Polka Dots and I have read through all of Gail Carriger's series together.  It is SO much fun getting to immediately react with someone and receive an immediate reaction in return.  It probably made me love the books far more than I would have on my own.  A shared reading adventure :)

7) When an author favorites your tweet or Instagram
I can't convey the joy this brings me :)

8) Bars and restaurants with literary themed drinks/food items
There's an awesome brewery on the eastside of Indianapolis called Books & Brews.  It's part book store and part restaurant/brewhouse, but it's all around awesome.  There's a sandwich called Return of the King and a delicious stout known as Portrait of the Stout as a Young Man.  It's just a little cool with movie nights, gaming opportunities, and live music :)

9) Finding a book you NEED for your home library on sale
Hello Half Price Books.  My name is Emily.  I can only visit you once a month to keep from going broke :)

10) Fun chapter titles (especially if they are song quotes/puns)
There are so many great books that have awesome chapter titles.  The foreshadowing of chapter titles in The Book Thief by Markus Zusak just about broke me, while the musical puns in Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride and explanatory titles of Mothership by Martin Leicht made me oh so happy :)

*About halfway through creating this list I realized I was ending each explanation with the stupid smiley face.  Then it became a challenge to continue the trend.  And then I realized that this here is my blog, and by golly, I'll do it even if there's no reason to smile :)

**I wrote this post listening to Bleacher's Strange Desire.  It was awesome.  You should check it out on iTunes and just try to fight the urge to dance around your house.

Happy reading!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Library GrabBag: Giant Games = Giant Fun!



I had the great pleasure of presenting on giant games at a district library conference not too far from home last Friday morning.  I've spoken about my Life Size Lock-In a time or two here on The Gnoming Librarian, but I thought I'd share my presentation info just in case there are any librarians out there interested in starting a giant gaming series in their neck of the woods.

It was a great group that offered a lot of great feedback on what they had tried in their library.  Several of us also shared dreams of what we want to attempt.  My oh my how librarians dream :)

The Pitch: A few reasons why you should invest in giant games

  • All-ages program opportunities
    • Kids, teens, adults, family…giant games are fun for all! GPL’s gaming events have brought in kids/teens/families that aren’t regular library users.
  • Instant programming when you have a crowd
    • Great passive programming opportunities!  Consider adding to a gaming cabinet for patrons to use in the library, and they’re easy to pull out for impromptu events.
    • Take them on the road!  Giant games are great for outreach events and cooperative programs with organizations in your community.
  • Encourages team work and problem solving skills
    • The larger gaming area is ideal for groups and teams!  Create teams to support cooperative game play [Monopoly – (1) player on the board, (1) player managing properties and money].
  • An energetic, yet “contained”, activity in the library
    • You don’t need a lot of space to have a lot of fun!  Giant board games create lots of laughter and competition without a lot of running around.
  • BIG bang for your buck (no pun intended )
    • Just like purchasing a board game or piece of equipment, investing in life-size games is the program that keeps on giving!  Offer multiple programs across multiple age groups to get your money’s worth.
    • Seek out community partners and sponsorships to help fund your life size games.  Is there an organization in your community that would also benefit from having access to the games?

Presentation PowerPoint - (https://goo.gl/06QFyV)
The PowerPoint is basically before and after pictures of different giant gaming attempts.  We started out using poster board for Monopoly and Sorry.  While I loved the size of the game board, storage and up keep was difficult.  In order to make the game work, each poster board square had to be taped down on the floor which is a bit more time intensive than I had originally anticipated.  We have since moved to painted canvas which is much easier to set up and store.

Budget - A potential budget for Option (1) - Poster board and Option (2) - Canvas games.  While the roll of canvas is a bit pricey, it's important to remember that one roll covered all the games.  I did not have to buy a separate roll for each.

Life Size Lock In Information
Event Itinerary
A sample itinerary for our Life Size Lock In.  During the breaks after each round where chaperones and our Teen Advisory Board hosts reset the room, we have the participants search the library for red paper dice.  They write their name on each dice they find and place it in a bucket.  At the end evening, we draw a red dice out of the bucket to award a prize.  In the middle of the itinerary page is a sample assignment sheet for our TAB members.  Each member usually supervises two games.  The rest of the evening they are free to play.

Permission Slip
Our permission slips have come in handy a few times to make calls home to parents.  After 8 years hosting the event with anywhere from 35-75 teens, I've only had to call home on two occasions.

Game Sign Up & Dance Card
This is how we stay organized, assure that we don't have too many players in one room, and keep track of each of the teens in the building.  When participants arrive for the event, they stop at a table and sign up for each round of games.  The PDF shows a sample for Sorry.  There are (4) rounds with the possibility of (8) players in each round.  Teens may only sign up for a game once.  We want to give everyone the chance to play everything.  After filling out each round of play, they write that down on their dance card which they keep with them so that they know where to be and when.  The game sign-up sheet stays with me.  Throughout the evening I travel between the rooms where games are set up to count teens and make sure everyone is accounted for.

Game Rules
We adjust the rules of the games to assure that as much fun can be had as possible in each 30-minute round.  This is a sample of the rules for Candyland that we provide our TAB hosts and adult chaperones.

It's a great event that brings in a lot of fabulous kids and teens.  Each year is a little different, and we make adjustments to the number that may register and how many rounds we offer according to our current crowd.  Let's face it.  Some years are easier than others.

I have found that the participants and chaperones alike have more fun when we stick to between 25-50 at the event as opposed to 75.  Too many participants can sometimes be a distraction, especially for teens with special needs or on the spectrum.  We want everyone who attends to have a good time.

If you're interested in gaming and have some questions, please let me know!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Wink Poppy Midnight

Wink Poppy MidnightAuthor: April Genevieve Tucholke
Info: Dial Books, copyright 2016, 247 pages

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

~Goodreads Description

I was hoping some time away from this book would make things a little more clear, but alas, I am still as confused as I was when I finished.  The thing is, there's not a whole lot to be confused about.  It's a pretty straight forward story without a whole lot of twists or turns or lessons thrown in along the way.

There are three main characters, and unfortunately three perspectives we get bounced between.  (A plot device that's starting to get a little stale) Poppy is the snotty, entitled, do as I want screw the consequences "mean" girl, who is seemingly leading the drama.  Wink is the daughter of a psychic, free spirit, who seems to live in a world populated by fictional storylines.  Midnight is the boy in-between, having caught the eye of Poppy but falling for Wink.

Wink is dramatic and whimsical.  She believes Midnight to be the hero in her story and Poppy the wolf, the villain, the creature needing slaying.  But each of these characters is not what they seem.  And that, I think, is the whole point of this book.  That people are complex and flawed and not one thing in particular.  The hero can also be the villain.  The mean girl the saint.  The weak girl the wolf. And while an author shouldn't have to come right out and tell the reader what the book is about, they can often just leave the reader wondering what they point was.  No one changed.  No one grew.  No revelation was worth the switching back and forth between so many characters.

Another book that was not necessarily poorly written, but not as well executed as I had hoped it might be in the end.  Wink Poppy Midnight was all over social media too.  Maybe I got caught up in the "hype".

Hopefully you'll read it and we can chat.  Maybe that's what this book needs.  A really good discussion with a reading buddy.  Want to be my reading buddy?


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Blackhearts

Blackhearts (Blackhearts, #1)Author: Nicole Castroman
Info: Simon Pulse, copyright 2016, 384 pages

Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward "Teach" Drummond, son of one of Bristol's richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There's just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents' deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to CuraƧao—where her mother was born—when she's stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

~Goodreads Description

Goodness gracious, I wanted to like this book.  An origin story for Blackbeard?  Yes, please!  But alas, it was not what I was expecting, nor was it a pleasant surprise.

Anne is a servant in the home of a rich merchant.  Teach is the son of the rich merchant and betrothed to a young woman he has known since childhood.  After a year away at sea, Teach is home and has decided that he doesn't want the life his father has mapped out for him.  He wants Anne, and Anne was freedom.  They both want freedom.

I'm a bit over love (or lust???) at first site.  A girl assaults you in the market before you come to realize that she is your father's servant and all the sudden you love her.  Maybe I just felt a little mislead after finishing the book.  I saw Blackbeard, thought pirates!, and got a little too excited.  It's an origin story.  Castroman is working up to the pirates, or I assume she is since this is book number one in a series.  But it needed more.

And I needed to fall in love with the characters.  I needed to love Teach and root for him as he struggles with his overbearing father in an attempt to carve his own path in life.  And I needed to love Anne and root for her as she reveals her true identity and goes in search of the life she has always dreamed of.  But I didn't.  Teach might love Anne, but he has no qualms with the state of servitude in his own home.  And his treatment of his betrothed, despite what you come to find out about her in the end, is pretty awful.  Sure, she seems spoiled, but the reader only gets to see her through the eyes of two characters who don't want to like her, and at the end (without giving too much away), you are meant to think he was justified in his actions.  But maybe it was his coldness toward her that led her to the final outcome.  Maybe it wasn't inevitable.

As for Anne - she could have changed my mind about the story.  She could have remained independent and stubborn.  But she doesn't.  She falls for the boy who is cheating on his betrothed.  And the merchant father was the worst.  Literally (my teens are rubbing off on me in their overuse of this word) the worst.  The man has no heart.  And he needs a heart.  I wanted him to have a heart.

I think I just wanted a different story.  It wasn't poorly written, but it wasn't what I wanted it to be.  Especially since there were only a few poor pirates present only for the length of a sentence or two.

Maybe I'll read the next.  Maybe I'll find the pirates I'd been waiting for.  Time will tell.

Until then, maybe I'll re-read Pirates! by Celia Rees.  Now that's a great pirate story :)



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

10 Books That Will Make You Laugh

Ten Books That Will Make You Laugh
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)
Now I wouldn't say these are all laugh-out-loud funny, but they will definitely put a smile on your face in some fashion.  Some are witty.  Some are punny.  Some are ridiculous.  Some have awesome chapter titles. But all of them are a whole lot of fun.

What's on your list?
 
1) The Prom Goer's Interstellar Excursion by Chris McCoy

2) An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

3) Croak by Gina Damico

4) Two Parties, One Tux, and a Very Short Film about The Grapes of Wrath by Steven Goldman

5) Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

6) Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudson

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (Necromancer, #1)
7) Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride


Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant, #1)
8) Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

9) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

10) Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal

Happy Reading!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Prudence

Prudence (The Custard Protocol, #1)
Author: Gail Carriger
Info: Orbit, copyright 2015, 359 pages

When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances - names it the Spotted Custard and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier's wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone's secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?

~Goodreads Description

I doubt I'll ever get tired of Carriger's world.  It is filled with such interesting characters and adventurous storylines with tons of whimsy thrown in for good measure. The Custard Protocol follows the escapades of Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama, the daughter of Alexia Tarabotti (a soulless preternatural who can "turn-off" a supernatural being's powers with a single touch) and Conall Maccon (a werewolf).  Prudence, herself, is quite interesting.  She has an excess of soul, and upon her birth showed some very interesting traits.  As a metanatural, she can "borrow" the powers of an supernatural she touches.  A touch from a vampire makes her a vampire, and so on.  But being the daughter of Alexia and Conall, and the adopted daughter of vampire Lord Akeldama, gives her a lot of gumption and sass.  She is not a young lady that wants to sit on the sidelines.

When Lord Akeldama discovers a new tea, he sends his adopted daughter across the world to India to corner the market.  But of course it's not going to be a simple trip.  Chaos quickly ensues, and Prudence, along with her traveling companions, find out that the supernatural world is much more interesting than they previously believed.

Here's the thing...while you don't necessarily have to have read the preceding series to understand who Prudence is and what is happening in the story, you definitely miss out on some of the fun.  Carriger does an amazing job weaving characters in and out, and part of the fun is following that path and discovering the connections.

While the series is definitely plot/setting heavy, she creates full characters (including secondary characters) who you come to absolutely adore.  That's why you should read everything written by Gail Carriger.  You get strong, independent, intelligent, capable female characters who are accompanied by strong, independent, intelligent, capable men who allow them to be.  What else can you ask for?  Cause if it's a spot of custard, you get that too :)


Friday, April 15, 2016

Starflight

Author: Melissa Landers
Info: Disney-Hyperion, copyright 2016, 369 pages

Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it.  Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles.  She's so desperate to reach the realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage abroad the space liner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he's been framed on Earth for conspiracy.  As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest.  Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world - and each other - the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family.  But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe...

~Goodreads Description

I moved this one up on the blogging list because I enjoyed it so much :)  Jessica at Bookplots & Polka Dots once told me that Regency fiction was her book jam...well, I think books with spaceships is mine :)  Is "book jam" a thing?  Not sure.  But do you want to make it a thing with me?  Cause I kinda like it.

Solara is an orphan looking to build a life for herself.  Doran is a rich boy who thinks he has everything figured out, including putting Solara in her place.  But when the two end up on the Zenith flying to the outer realms, they realize that maybe life is what they make it, and what they really need is each other.

Just like Avalon by Mindee Arnett, Starflight reads like it would make a great TV show in the same world as Firefly. (Perhaps that's why I like spaceships so much...)  Solara is determined and talented, a mechanic who wants something to call her own, even if living in the outer realms can be unpredictable.  While she has found herself on the wrong side of the law a time or two, it's only for survival, which I don't condone but totally respect.  She's a fighter, and I really liked her.  

Doran I didn't love so much at first.  Sure, it wasn't hard to figure out what direction the book would eventually take, but I loved the ride.  The gradual friendship between the two seemed genuine.  It wasn't love at first sight, thank goodness, and there were no love triangles.  Definitely a breath of fresh air.  The twists and turns as the story progresses were spot on and believable.  And they were on a spaceship with an awesome crew.  And there were space pirates.  And a harvest festival on a far off planet.  And space pirates.

I could gush some more, but I'll stop.  You should just go check it out from your local library.  As for me, I think I'll be investing in a copy for my home library.  Yep.  I liked it that much.  It deserves a spot on my shelves.  (And Melissa Landers totally liked my tweet when I finished)


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Anatomy of Curiosity

The Anatomy of Curiosity (The Curiosities, #2)
Author: Maggie Steifvater, Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanoff
Info: Carllrhoda Lab, copyright 2015, 290 pages

The follow-up to the acclaimed title The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff.

In an unassuming corner of Brooklyn, a young woman learns to be ladylike, to love context, and to speak her mind from a very curious sort of tutor.

In a faraway land convulsed by war, a young soldier hears the desert’s curious hum as he disarms bombs with the person he doesn’t know how to love.

In a place so shriveled by drought that any drowning is a curiosity, a young writer tries again and again to tread water beneath the surface of a vast and unusual sea.

Three new stories—complete with commentary on the creative process—from three acclaimed young adult authors working at the height of their powers.

Curious?

~Goodreads Description

As short stories go, this is not the best collection I've read.  But that wasn't really the point.  Or it kind of was, but not really.  I'm not making a whole lot of sense.  The introduction of the book, in my opinion, is the point.  Here are three, successful, talented authors who want to share their insights on the writing process.  That's the point.  Each author tackles a different concept/discussion point on writing, and in turn, the stories they present revolve around that discussion.

Maggie Stiefvater discusses character, the backbone of her stories.  Tessa focuses on world building, making the setting a character in itself.  And Brenna tackles ideas, where they come from and how they form into coherent concepts.  A short introduction proceeds each story, but the interesting, and best part of the book, comes in the form of commentary provided throughout.  As you read the story you are privy to fascinating asides about what they were thinking, why the made a particular decision to include an element, or what they changed upon editing.

This is a gem of a book for anyone who is interested in writing.  What I found most fascinating was that a lot of what they mention made sense :)  "Yes, of course you would make that decision.  I totally get why," went through my head quite often.  It's about process, and focus, and believing that when you sit down to write you are capable of something readable.  Boosted my confidence a bit and left me in awe.

Love how this is in my Teen Room, and that I'll be able to recommend it to all of our budding writers.  But adults should totally pick it up too, if no other reason than MAGGIE STIEFVATER :)


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

10 Books Every Steampunk Enthusiast Should Read

Ten Books Every Steampunk Enthusiast Should Read
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

So first, I really wanted to create a list about books set in space and/or that include aliens.  Because for some reason I LOVE teen fiction with aliens.  Funny aliens in particular, but I'll take them anyway I can get them since they're pretty rare.   I liked to have a full list, and I wasn't sure I could pull one together.  Then I thought maybe historical fiction or dystopias.  But those topics didn't feel right either. So I settled on steampunk, because you can't go wrong with feisty women in beautiful dresses who ride in flying airships and chase dastardly villains.

Here are ten steampunk titles I think you should check out:
(And then report back to me so we can talk about them.  It will be fun.  We can form our own steampunk society.  Cause that's not weird.  I'm not weird.  Do you think I'm weird?)

1) Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Of course she's on the list!  Love her!

The Clockwork Scarab (Stoker & Holmes, #1)
2) The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
There's fun family history (Stoker & Holmes) and an exciting mystery.

3) The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer
Alternate history with a floating city.  A FLOATING CITY.

The Affinity Bridge (Newbury and Hobbes, #1)
4) The Affinity Bridge by George Mann
A Sherlock Holmes feel with dirigibles, zombies, and deadly automatons.

The Unnaturalists (The Unnaturalists, #1)
5) The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent
Magic, a museum, and a girl on a mission.

6) The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
Finley Jayne is a force to be reckoned with with tons of magic to boot.

7) The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress
A steampunk Charlie's Angels.  Fun.

Mortal Engines (The Hungry City Chronicles, #1)
8) Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
Another FLOATING CITY very similar to Howl's Castle :)

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1
9) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore
"A remarkable legion of intellectual aptitude and physical prowess."

Airborn (Matt Cruse, #1)
10) Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
Air pirates.

Happy reading!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Happy Anniversary!


Tomorrow will mark my four year blogging anniversary!

I find it important to celebrate these milestones to keep myself motivated and continue forward.  In all honesty, it still surprises me that I'm blogging on a regular basis.  When I started back in 2012, I thought I would write a few posts, have a little fun, and then this, like other projects sitting in my home, would fall to the wayside.  Time is precious and life can be hard.  Finding time to write is often difficult.  But I've made it a priority because I enjoy it, and that's the only reason why I'm still here.

I've been taking a long, hard look at the "book" community lately and it both fills me with joy and sorrow.  It's exciting to see the internet filled will people who love to communicate with one another about what they're reading, take fun themed pictures of items on their shelves, and create relatable videos that stir up enthusiasm for new authors and titles.  But is the community becoming obsessed with stuff and numbers?  I've never felt that I needed to own all the books that I love, or that I need thousands of followers to feel like my voice is worthy.  My home library is modest but well curated, filled with titles that I've returned to time and time again.  I don't write or participate in bookstagram for the number of followers or to try and get people to send me free things.  I participate because at the end of the day, if my fifty followers get a better glimpse of me and what I love, then I'm satisfied.

Here are the numbers that make me proud, and while small compared to some, mean the world to me.  This is my 768th post.  I have written and posted over 300 book reviews (some books having become my favorites, others not so much).  And I have answered, and chatted, and fangirl-ed with a community that makes me happy to be an avid reader.

So here's to four years!  And here's looking forward to four more :)  A big thank you to those of you who stop by on a regular basis.  I'm glad you're here!  And if you've stumbled here for the first time, my name is Emily.  I own a garden gnome that occasionally makes an appearance on this here blog.  I'm a librarian.  A nerd.  A reader.  And I look forward to getting to know you :)

P.S.  Totally got my badge for Book Con in the mail!  Fingers crossed people...Mike the Gnome might get to meet Maggie Stiefvater.  We're just a little bit excited :)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Kill the Boy Band

Kill the Boy BandAuthor: Goldy Moldavsky
Info: Point, copyright 2016, 32

Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn't supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band.

We didn't mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he's tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it's Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn't be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.

We didn't mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn't. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that's what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.

How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.

~Goodreads Description

Hmmm...

Well...

Uh...

Hmmm...  This book.  I didn't quite "get" this book.

We have fangirls.  This particular group of fangirls are obsessed with a boy band called The Ruperts - aptly named because each of the members share the name Rupert.  The Ruperts are going to be hosting a Thanksgiving special in New York City, and our fangirls have decided to reserve a room in the same hotel with the hopes of running into them.  And they do.  Well, they run into one of them.  Literally.  Then there is a kidnapping.  And things get out of control very, very quickly.

The premise sounds fun.  Yes.  Once upon a time I enjoyed a good boy band.  I grew up in the era of New Kids On the Block and later The Backstreet Boys and N'Sync.  I maybe might have gone to their concerts, but I didn't own any t-shirts, or posters, or dolls.  I was not a fangirl, but I knew them.  They were a bit crazy, but were generally harmless young women who had vivid imaginations.

But this book was not depicting those girls.  Is it satire? A tongue and cheek commentary on fandom?  I can't tell.  I feel like it was meant to be funny, but I was more disgusted than amused.  I would have even preferred the characters to be stereotyped into the girls I knew.  At times Moldavsky tried, describing each of the girls and why they liked a particular boy, but in order for that to work it would have had to be exaggerated.  Instead, we have morally depraved young girls who take no responsibility for their actions.  There's also a bit of fat shaming which is uncomfortable and unresolved and an ending that left me unsatisfied.

The thing is, I liked the voice of the book.  Not the narrator, but the voice.  It was conversational and familiar.  The audiobook reader did an excellent job bringing that to life, not "reading" the book but telling the listener a story.  Moldavsky has talent, but this was just not the story for me.

It has stayed with me though.  I have talked to others about it.  Ranted about it.  Vented about it.  And I've gone back and read reviews to see if I was alone in my assessment.  In that, Moldavsky has succeeded.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Check it out from your library and let me know what you think.

Well shoot, now I have a Backstreet Boys song in my head.  "You are, my fire. The one, desire. Believe, when I say, I want it that way."

Happy reading!


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Wright Brothers

The Wright Brothers
Author: David McCullough
Info: Simon & Schuster, copyright 2015, 320 pages

On a winter day in 1903, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, two unknown brothers from Ohio changed history.  But it would take the world some time to believe what had happened: the age of flight had begun, with the first heavier-than-air, powered machine carrying a pilot.

Who were these men and how was it that they achieved what they did?

David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, tells the surprising, profoundly American story of Wilbur and Orville Wright.

~Goodreads Description

I'm not ashamed to admit that I choose books by their covers and audiobooks by their readers.  David McCullough has a soft, soothing, grandpa-like voice that makes listening to nonfiction pleasant and relaxing.  And that, my friends, was why I picked up (or downloaded) this particular title.

There was this history thing too :)

Back in college I had a professor who said that history is the story of people within a particular context and time period.  It's not dates and events that must be memorized, but individual stories that explain the who, what, when, where and whys.  McCullough seems to embrace that same philosophy.  The Wright brothers and their contribution to aeronautics is really just a story.  It's a story of two men with a self-drive and determination that epitomizes the "American dream".

And that's where this story is interesting.  Here are two men without any formal education or training in aeronautics who took the world by storm.  They did it through hard, hard work and persistence.  Failures were seen as opportunities, and there were no obstacles that some heavy reading and experimenting couldn't solve.  They were observers and discussers and explorers.  And they were brave.  Despite crashes and close calls, they got back into the air every time, proving that heavier-than-air flight was possible.

McCullough also paints a picture of two genuinely thoughtful, kind, unpretentious men.  Despite the prestige and attention they eventually received first in Europe and then in the states, the Wrights brothers, and their sister Catherine, remained humble and grateful.  They were secretive to protect their work, but they appreciated the excitement that their achievements stirred into the hearts of the thousands that came out to see them fly.

I have a feeling their will be more David McCullough in my reading future.  It's accessible history that is both entertaining and informative.  And one day I'll have to make another trip out to Kitty Hawk to fully appreciate what these men accomplished.  Who's up for a road trip?!


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

10 Bookish People You Should Follow

Ten Bookish People You Should Follow
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

I admit that I don't spend as much time with bookish people over the inter webs as I would like, but I appreciate all that they provide to the community.  As a librarian, we often have people ask us if library's are a thing of the past.  "Do people really still read?" they wonder.  All anyone needs to do is point them in the direction of the "book" community flooding the Internet in any number of ways.


Books are still very much alive.  And so are libraries.  We evolve.  We explore.  And we survive on the passions and talents of amazing people.  And we have some pretty amazing people who support us along the way as well (see Neil Gaiman's eloquent, heartfelt, totes awesome speech in 2013).

Some on my list are friends.  Others are professionals who are paid to push books.  And then there are those who just love to read and share their enthusiasm.  I have my issues with "Booktube" and "Bookstagram", but in the end it's about sharing a love of the written word.  And as a book nerd, that's all you really ask for.

1) Bookplots & Polkadots - Sure, I might work with her, but Jessica never shies away from a good conversation about books.  You should check out her reviews and the awesome fun she has on Instagram (@bookplots_n_polkadots).

2) Not only is Julia at stylishinthestacks.com a school librarian, she's also an avid book reader and fashionista.  Her blog has tons of flair and whimsy, and so does she.  You can also check her out on YouTube (Stylish Stacks) and Instagram (@stylishinthestacks).

3) Epic Reads - I've mentioned Epic Reads on the blog before, but they are worth mentioning again.  Especially their YouTube channel and the fun "Book Nerd Problems" videos.  They leave you believing they really work in an office of book nerds who totally understand how hard it can be at times to love reading SO much.

4) @readsleepfangirl takes some awesome photos on Instagram, and I like, and choose, to believe that she has read all the beautiful books on her bookshelf.  And I'm totally jealous of her Funko Pop collection!

5) There's no logical reason why you're not following author Maggie Stiefvater on Twitter.  You should pause right here and go do that.

6) You should also be following publishers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to find out what you need to add to your Goodreads TBR list!  I follow Fierce Books, Harper Collins, Epic Reads, Harlequin Teen, I Read YA, and PenguinTeen just to name a few.

7) Are you following your local library?  You should totally follow your local library.  Not only would they really appreciate you "liking" and following them via just about an social media outlet, but you can stay up-to-date on what is happening in your community and get connected with other book-minded individuals!  If you want, you can follow my library on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube!

8)  What about your local bookstore?  Be it chain or independent, they need all the love you can give them.  Let's work on keeping bookstores open and vibrant in our communities!  Indy Reads.  Kids Inc.

9 & 10) My last two come from YouTube.  Maybe it's my age.  Maybe it's working long days in a public service profession.  Shoot.  Maybe it's just my personality, but I prefer "pleasant" people over highly agitated, yell at the screen kind of people.  To each there own.  But in case you're one of the few not watching Jesse the Reader and the Peruse Project on YouTube (Booktube), you should really check them out.  They are enthusiastic, read widely, and seemingly pleasant individuals.

Wasn't sure I was going to make it to 10!  But look at that.  A full list :)  Who is on your list?  Happy reading!


Monday, April 4, 2016

Timeless

Timeless (Parasol Protectorate, #5)
Author: Gail Carriger
Info: Orbit, copyright 2012, 341 pages

Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss.  Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire's second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly.  Even Ivy Tunstell's acting troupe's latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a dampener on Alexia's enjoyment of her new London lifestyle.

Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored.  With husband, child and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean.  But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle.  What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her?  Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding?  And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?

~Goodreads Description

I'm not going to lie.  I'm just a wee bit sad this is the last book in the series.  Yes, I know the tale continues with the Custard Protocol, but it won't be the same.  Alexia won't be the feisty protagonist, and Lord Maccon won't be gruffly trying to keep her alive.

Prudence has been born, and she comes with one nifty surprise - she has so much soul that she turns into whatever supernatural creature she comes into contact with.  For a parent trying to wrangle a toddler, these "special" gifts can be a bit trying.  When the Beta of the Kingair pack returns to Egypt, investigating the preternatural mummy that wreaked havoc way back in Changeless, they realize that the case isn't quite solved.  Then word arrives that Alexia and Prudence have been summoned by the Queen of the Alexandria hive, and our favorite group prepare for a trip.

I've spoken about the well-written, diverse characters in the past.  Not only has Carriger paid great attention to her main protagonists (and antagonists), but she spent time fully flushing out the many secondary characters that are sprinkled throughout the series.  The world building is equally impressive.  Taking a setting we're familiar with and flipping it on its head is no easy task.  An author has to work within the confines of reality (despite the supernatural elements) as opposed to creating a world where the characters may behave according to their every whim.

There are a lot of moving parts in this series.  You have the werewolf packs steeped in history and family drama, the vampire hives entrenched in society, a ghostly population that haunts the streets, and London being London.  Often in series, especially series this long, I've found that author's tend to introduce and then promptly ignore, leaving the reader wondering why they bothered in the first place.  I never had that feeling with Carriger's writing.  Characters and plot points were introduced and fully attended to throughout the books.

Have mentioned that the books are just fun?  Because they are.  This isn't "literary" fiction with deep prose and well structured lessons and conversations.  This is escapism fiction, and well-written escapism at that.  The dialogue is quick and witty, and the storyline intriguing and thrilling.  It's just the kind of story I will return to from time to time when I need to sail through the ether on a dirigible.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...